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What GTA VI means for Florida

When the trailer for the highly anticipated sequel in the Grand Theft Auto franchise leaked earlier this week, Rockstar Games shrugged their shoulders and responded by posting the official trailer on YouTube, which instantly became the No. 1 trending video on the site.
When the trailer for the highly anticipated sequel in the Grand Theft Auto franchise leaked earlier this week, Rockstar Games shrugged their shoulders and responded by posting the official trailer on YouTube, which instantly became the No. 1 trending video on the site.

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I had heard rumors that the newest installment would take place in Florida. However, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to witness.

I was mesmerized by the trailer, completely starstruck by the stunning depictions of sandy beaches, tropical coastlines, dazzling neon lights, high-rise skyscrapers, palm trees, pools, supercars and alligators – all to the theme of Tom Petty’s “Love Is A Long Road.”

The one-and-a-half-minute trailer, which is more of a teaser than anything, is quintessentially Floridian; the comparisons to Miami, the Everglades, and the Keys hit the bullseye. Rockstar Games is acclaimed for its attention to detail, and it truly humbling to witness the state I have called home for more than a decade captured vibrantly in HD graphics as an explorable open world.

Grand Theft Auto, a billion-dollar franchise known for its depiction of violence and explicit adult content, doesn’t just pick any setting for its games: New York City (Liberty City), San Francisco (San Andreas), Los Angeles (Los Santos), Las Vegas (Las Venturas) and, once again, Miami (Vice City). However, from the trailer, it is safe to say that the whole state of Florida is “fair game.” From anonymously leaked maps, I anticipate gamers will have the freedom to traverse through fictionalized renditions of the Everglades, the Keys, Tampa Bay, Lake Okeechobee, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Disney World.

The game is a huge cultural win for our state. Rockstar’s desire to choose Florida, not merely Miami, as the setting for GTA VI is indicative of the state’s growing prominence in the United States and on the world stage.

Those unfamiliar with the game’s content are going to be offended by the countless depictions of gun violence, sexual content, foul language and presumed glorification of criminal culture – if GTA VI will be anything like its predecessor. By doing so, I am afraid they are going to miss the game’s message.

Grand Theft Auto VI will satirize and critique many of our state’s shortcomings. But it will also be a celebration of our state’s culture, scenery and the numerous quirks which we pride ourselves on. Coming 2025, Florida will be home to millions of gamers across the world.

As heartbreaking as it is to admit, I couldn’t find any leaks that point to the Jacksonville metropolitan area, specifically Clay County, being included in the game. I truly believe that this is a development short sight. For better or for worse, Duval and Clay counties did not capture the attention of the Grand Theft Auto development team.

Hopefully, North Florida will be included as DLC (downloadable content) in the future. There’s a certain red light in Orange Park that I want to run through without any worries about getting a ticket.